Guard Your Heart
Ontario Christian Center
BY: TOM BROWN
MARCH 28, 2018
The most important thing for you to guard is not your house, or your children, or your wallet and purse, but it is to guard your heart. Jesus says, "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean." (Matthew 7:14-15).
Jesus went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'" (vs 20-23).
The heart is your deep, emotionally charged thoughts. Wrong thoughts alone does not mean the thoughts are in your heart. But if you meditate on those wrong thoughts, they will become part of your heart.
Wrong thoughts come to all of us. You can't stop that, but you can stop them from intruding into your life by putting them in your heart. You can't stop birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from laying a nest in your hair.
When I was very small, a bird attacked me. It started to peck at my head. I ran into my grandma's house, "Grandma, a bird is hitting my head!" She laughed and told me to go back outside.
I reluctantly went back outside, with a stick in my hand, waiting for the bird to attack. Sure enough, the bird attacked me again; this time, my grandmother was watching and was shocked to see that her little grandson was not lying. She took her broom and attacked the bird, until eventually it left, never to attack me again.
Strange things like that happens; birds will attack, and you can't stop them from attacking, but you don't let them put a nest in your hair. That is the same with thoughts. Evil thoughts come to you, but so long as you chase them away or let them go, then the thoughts never enter the heart.
Three Reasons to Guard Your Heart
Jesus teaching was also expressed by wise Solomon, "Above all else, guard your
heart, for everything you do flows from it" (Proverbs 4:23). There are three basic reasons why you need to guard your heart:
Reason One: The heart is the source of everything you do.
Solomon says, "For everything you do flows from it." Jesus says it another way, "All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'" Not food, but whatever you allow to come in your heart can make you unclean. Of course, the positive is also true, if you put the good things--good thoughts, holy thoughts, positive thinking, good feelings toward people--then those things in the heart will clean up your life.
Your life is the result of what you have allowed to enter your heart.
No one wakes in bed with another man's wife and shockingly says, "Wow, how did I get here? I don't know how I committed adultery?" Of course not. That is laughable. A person commits adultery because lust was in their hearts. The lust grew until it turned into action. Likewise, no one embezzles funds or cheats on taxes or shop-lifts, and then wonders how they stole. They stole because they allowed the thoughts of greed to permeate their hearts. The greed got into their hearts and that is why they stole.
Reason Two: The heart is valuable.
How many security guards do you station at your trash can to make sure no one steals your discarded pizza box or aluminum cans? None, right? Why? Because your trash bin is not valuable. It is filled with garbage. You don't care much if someone rummages through your garbage.
However, in valuable museums, jewelry stores, and nuclear plants, there are guards stationed there, in some cases, twenty-four hours a day. Guards protect valuable assets.
This means your heart is valuable! You can't treat it like a garbage can. You must not allow garbage to go into your heart. Garbage includes, lust, greed, resentment, pride and similar things. Treat your heart like only valuables belong there. Put self control, generosity, forgiveness, and humility in your heart and it will produce a wonderful harvest.
Reason Three: The heart is under constant attack.
You only need to guard something that thieves want. The devil is a thief, and he wants your heart. The way for him to try to get it, is by filling your heart with his evil deeds. If he can get you to dwell intensely on evil things, then he gets possession of your heart and causes all manners of evil to be produced in your life.
Today, people just let anything get into them. Someone at work does them wrong or they think they did them wrong, so they began to dwell on this offense. They nurse a grudge. This offense turns into hatred. The hatred turns to anger. This is when the offense becomes dangerous. They act upon their anger. We see this constantly on the news. Someone shoots their former employees, friends, relatives, ex lovers or sometimes strangers, because of the hatred in their hearts. It all started there.
Satan Attack Three Areas
Satan will attack three areas of your life: your character, your faith and your love.
He attacks your character with temptation.
He attacks your faith with trials.
He attacks your love with offense.
Jesus focuses much on sexual sins. He mentions fornication (sexual immorality), adultery and lewdness. Jesus says, "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away" (Matthew 5:28-29).
It's normal and not sinful to notice beauty. You cannot but notice if a girl is pretty or a guy is handsome. That's not lust. Lust is when you fantasize sexually about the person. You imagine what it would be like to have sex with them. This is lust. You went beyond attraction to lust. Jesus says, "If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out." In His hyperbole picture, He clearly shows the deadliness of lust. Left inside the heart, it will manifest in fornication or adultery or simply lewdness (indecent behavior).
The fact that Jesus says to "gouge it out" means that you have the power to stop lusting. Lust is not an uncontrollable addiction. There is nothing within the body that needs the lust to survive. You will not go through withdrawals if you stop the lust. In fact, you will begin to feel clean once you stop it.
The devil will bring temptation to you. It might be a young pretty girl that has little morals or a nice attractive man that is controlled by lust. Don't let the person take you captive by their flirting. Those batting eye lashes or kind remark may be a way to bring the temptation to you. Don't be ensnared by it.
Attacks Your Faith
Faith is in heart. "With the heart man believes unto righteousness" (Romans 10:9). Satan attacks your faith. He is afraid of your faith in God. Your faith is a shield that stops all the flaming arrows of Satan. He wants you to put down the shield so he can attack you.
How does he do it? He attacks you with trials. Troubles, Tribulation, Problems, Difficulties. It might be a health problem or a financial crisis. It might be trouble at work or at church. You might face tribulations with your family. The devil causes these troubles in the same way he causes temptations. These trials are meant to get you to give up on your faith in God. He wants you to think that your trials are permanent. He wants to discourage you.
Many believers have given up on their faith because persecution became too much for them. God didn't answer their prayer in the way they expected. They did not see victory as God promised. So they give up! Doubt replaces their faith. Skepticism becomes their way of life. They are critical of the church and the Bible. What happened? They used to be at church all the time, but now something has taken place. Trouble came and they did not answer it with faith.
Some Christians go even further into agnosticism and atheism. For some, the trial was not a problem but a deception. Someone brought them confusion about Christianity. They asked questions that the believer did not know how to answer; these questions turned into a crisis of faith. The doubt-peddlers put thoughts of unbelief into the minds of these believers; now these believers are in limbo. They wonder if the gospel is true. Others have thrown the gospel away. How did this happened? Satan attacked their heart. Guard your heart!
Attack Your Love
The Bible says that we should love each other deeply from our hearts. Love is in the heart. God has poured His love into our hearts. (see 1 Peter 1:22 and Romans 5:5) Satan is most afraid of the believer who truly loves others.
Love conquers all! "But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate" (1 Thessalonians 5:8). You only need a breastplate to be protected from a sharp dagger or pointy arrow. When you walk in love, then you have a breastplate to protect you.
The devil will try to cause people to offend you. A preacher might say something that you vehemently disagree with. A family member may fail to invite you to the family reunion. A friend may have gossiped about you. There are innumerable ways for people to hurt your feelings or to show disrespect to you. You cannot let what they do get into your heart. If you do, then the seed of bitterness can grow. "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many" (Hebrews 12:15).
In the Middle East, during the first century, there was a plant that was bitter to the taste called bitterness. The Hebrew writer uses a play on words. Understand that the bitter plant was known for its deep roots. Once it was rooted, it was hard to pluck out. He warns the believer not to let the "bitter root grow up."
There is nothing more detrimental to your walk with God than bitterness. It is the cause of Judas' betrayal. It is the cause of divorce and disunity in churches. It is the cause of family spits and the ruined of businesses. It destroys neighborhoods and countries.
You cannot allow the hurt you feel because of what someone did to you get in your heart. It is easier to get rid of lust and doubt than it is to get rid of bitterness. This is the most dangerous evil that can get in the heart.
Jesus talks more about this area than any other area. He mentions, "murder, malice, deceit, envy, slander." These are all evils of hate. No one murders unless hatred is in the heart.
The answer for hatred is forgiveness. Jesus emphasizes forgiveness, because it is the only antidote for hate. Maybe right now you need to forgive. Get rid of the bitterness now.
Ultimately, you are the gatekeeper to your heart. You decide what you will allow or won't allow in your heart. Remember this, God sows His seed of the gospel into your heart, but the devil also sows his evil seeds into your heart as well. He uses worldly philosophies to do this. Keep the devil out. Quit letting him sow his seeds of immorality, doubt and hatred in your heart. Put God's Word into your heart and it will produce a beautiful harvest of righteousness.
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